Rudy leads young Rams to success

Jeff Rudy

STRASBURG — Strasburg cross country coach Jeff Rudy has had an established top-notch girls program for years, but over the last few seasons the boys program has become stronger as well. This season the boys had their best finish in many years.

A very young boys squad placed third in the Group 2A state meet and has a lot of promise for the future. Rudy said he thought it was the highest the boys have finished since current Handley track coach Mike McKiernan was coaching the Rams in the 1990s.

“[Over the last 10 years] the boys teams have had as much talent as the girls — it has simply not translated,” Rudy said. “Now we’re starting to see it translate. This is the third time in the past four years that the boys team has made it to the state meet. We’re starting to see that trickle effect into the collegiate ranks, and now we’re seeing the championship season translate into victories for them. It’s really, really exciting to see both programs firing on all cylinders and translating into trophies and medals and podiums.”

Strasburg had only one senior this year in Nic Campbell, but should have the rest of the team returning next year.

Perhaps the highlight of the season for the Rams was winning the Conference 35 title in dominating fashion. Strasburg had five runners in the top 10, and all seven runners were in the top 16.

“It was the beginning of the championship season, and when things became more serious we saw them step up and have a great race,” Rudy said.

The Rams stumbled a little bit in the Region 2A East meet and placed third, but came back strong to finish third in the state meet.

They were led all season by Max Middleton, who finished 13th in the state meet. However, what made the Rams so strong was their depth. In any given race, the No. 2 to No. 7 runners could be different.

Sophomores Dylan Campbell, Ryan Davis, Logan Smalls, Kyle Tiemeyer and Nealon Davis, all of whom finished in the top seven, give the team a lot of promise for the next two years.

“Max Middleton will be a little bit older and a little bit wiser and Brian Scholten will be a little bit older and a little bit wiser, and they will be seniors next year,” Rudy said. “The rest of the boys will be juniors. There’s a recipe for success.”

While the athletes certainly do a lot to be successful, they are also quick to give a lot of credit for all that Rudy does for them. One of the big aspects that is helpful is the workouts that he comes up with for each of the runners.

“You see most teams collapse before regions. It’s because of their workouts,” Middleton said.

Strasburg athletic director Matt Hiserman said that Rudy has taken the boys and girls programs and made them one of the best around and he’s turned the teams into more of a family atmosphere. Hiserman said that the athletes know going in what the expectations are and what’s expected of them.

“He makes the kids understand it’s not just a sport to come and do whatever, it’s one of the best sports programs in our building, and that’s what he wants it to be,” Hiserman said. “He wants it to be known as one of the best programs in the area, and I think he’s built that where people recognize that we’re somebody to be reckoned with.”

Rudy said instilling the family atmosphere on his teams is very important, and it’s part of the reason that they’ve had so much success.

“It becomes so much of that foundation for us,” Rudy said of the family atmosphere. “Because it creates importance to the team that no one wants to let anyone else down. It means that we enjoy each other’s company. We want to come to practice to see each other — in a lot of ways, racing not for themselves but for their teammates.”

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com